Review of Soul Emotion 2 TWS – Don’t Associate “Cheap” as “Bad”

We have heard enough bad news about Covid-19. In Singapore, people are encouraged to stay at home during this circuit breaker. If there is one good thing in this pandemic, we are still free to go out for run. A good set of earpieces is a perfect companion especially we are running alone. If you have been following my blog closely, we have reviewed several headsets that are designed for fitness fanatics. The latest one is Soul ST-XS2.

This time, we are reviewing another TWS from Soul – Soul Emotion2. The cheaper Emotion2 is different from the Soul ST-XS2 in several ways. In terms of appearance, the Emotion2 is smaller and sleeker. Apart from that, the Emotion2 does not come with ear wings.

Source: Instagram @weewu

Unlike the Soul ST-XS2 that comes with 4 colours, the Soul Emotion2 comes only with 3 colours (pink, white & black). Soul Electronics sends me a white Emotion2 for review. Although the Emotion2 is a smaller device than the ST-XS2, the Led indicator light on the Emotion2 is larger and more visible than the one on the ST-XS2.

The Emotion2 is also splash-proof with a rating of IPX4. In another words, you could clean the Emotion2 with little water (just make sure you don’t put it under the running tap).

The Emotion2 is incredibly light. Weighed at approx.5g, it is amazingly comfortable to wear for long hours. However, this advantage may have some side effects to those with big earhole. I brought this out for a run and find that I must frequently make adjustment to make sure the Emotion2 is at the place that it should. Although I have switched to its biggest earplugs, it just does not work for people like me who have big earhole.

Soure: Instagram @weewu

Audio Quality

The Emotion2 delivers crystal clear sound with a balanced sharpness. Bass is warm and it mixes well with the treble. While I am immersing myself to a passionate vocal performance on YouTube, the Emotion2 produces a well-balanced sound with “visible” enough High, Mid and Low tones.

Conference call with this is acceptable as I can clearly hear what the counterparty is saying but it does not work as well for the other party. Apparently, the performance of mic is a little lacking. I need to speak louder to get my voice across.

Although physical design blocks off some surrounding noise, it is still quite disturbing when you are trying to focus on your online seminars. In this case, a good noise cancelling TWS could help to block off noises from the Kids TV programme while you are working. Unfortunately, this feature is not included.

A Good Buy?

This is a good product for loner like me who spent lots of hours online watching movies and concerts alone. Music is an experienced goods that touches people emotionally. As long the TWS could deliver what it is supposed to deliver, it is a good product. That is why I find the name of this product speaks for itself.  

Of course, it is also extremely comfortable to wear (just don’t bring it out for run. It is not designed to anyway).

It is cheap and I do not mean it in a negative way. Their official store at Lazada is selling at SGD54.90! That is crazy! Granted. There are flaws like no active noise cancelling but why does that matter? Who else is watching “Baby-Shark” when I am all by myself at home watching Black Pink’s music video? I am a cheapo if you want to say so.

Recommendation: “Buy” (if you are an introvert like me)

Covid 19 Crisis – Like it or not, Cryptocurrency is Here to Stay

Like our old saying, “When there is recession, there is an opportunity”. In 2008, we faced the world’s worst financial crisis. Lehman brothers’ collapse has shown the world the inherent vulnerabilities of our monetary system. Central banks across the globe were caught off guard. European Central Bank (ECB) hastily made deep cut in the interest rate in the hope to restore investor’s faith. However, market did not recover at the rate as expected since then. Ironically, another historical event happened in the same year – bitcoin.org domain was registered.

Fast forward to today. ECB’s idea of negative interest rate fails miserably, and US Fed follows Japan’s zero interest rate policy will lead to monetary failure in the long term. Investors, flooded with these “free” money, are facing a challenge of finding returns in their investment. As such, they are more willing to take up more risks in exchange for higher returns. Cryptocurrencies, once known to be highly speculatively, starts to re-ignite the interests of investor amid Covid-19 crisis.   

Quick Recap of Bitcoin’s History

Hailed as the “King of Cryptocurrency”, Bitcoin first appeared in investors’ radar in 2013. During that time, almost all markets were trying to recover from the Global Financial Crisis. Investors were extremely cautious not to put money in conventional financial instruments; stocks, bonds and even commodities were not spared as well as they were all interlinked with financial instruments one way or another. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is the only “tradeable asset” that was unlinked to other financial products while at the same, it offers certain degree of liquidity to investors.

That year, Bitcoin was priced at around USD 13. In less than a year, the price had skyrocketed to slightly less than USD1,300 (That’s approx. 100x returns in a year!) That price spike was not sustainable which inevitably, Bitcoin crashed; pricing it at about USD 600 in the same year.

It was a choppy ride for Bitcoin between 2013 to 2017 but it was also a “Golden Era” for Bitcoin. Thousands of new cryptocurrency exchanges were formed. Regulators from all around the world refused to acknowledge Bitcoin as an asset class. However, market will not succumb to regulations; it will just find their ways for survival. Start-ups which struggled to raise fund via conventional means starts to offer their own coins in what they called “Initial Coin Offerings”. At the end of 2017, Bitcoin was priced as high as USD 19,783!

Many crypto investors became millionaires during the Golden Era of Bitcoin. However, the peak was short-lived. By the end of 2018, many cryptocurrency exchanges collapsed, and Bitcoin had crashed to USD 3,300.

Resurgence of Cryptocurrencies during Covid-19 crisis

Over the years, we have heard many criticisms debating the intrinsic value of Bitcoin. I believe most of them are valid but not all of them. At the very least, Bitcoin laid an important pillar for further technology advancement in the area of finance and business – Blockchain technology. A classic example is Ripple (XRP) which made used of this technology to create an architecture that could facilitate faster payment settlement for financial institutions. In Japan, banks are using Ripple protocol to facilitate payment via mobile app.    

Blockchain has created an entirely new market of its own – cryptocurrency and that has completely changed the way how investors look at the economy and after more than 10 years, investors began to accept the fact that Bitcoin is here to stay. For the past 5 years, Bitcoin’s transactions has grown more than double to about 300,000 daily (source: ycharts.com last checked on 26 Apr 2020, link here)

Zhao Changpeng (CZ), CEO of Binance. Source: Binance

However, we do not see sharp price spike of Bitcoin as what it had experienced before in the last decades. One logical explanation is the fact that investors have more options these days.  Over time, the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem has expanded and become more diverse. There are many more cryptocurrencies now. Each is developed to solve a specific problem faced by business. Bitcoin, though it is the largest by market cap, is not longer the only cryptocurrency that investors have eyes on. For instance, Binance, one of the earliest cryptocurrency exchanges, offers its own Binance coin (BNB) that is used as a base currency to buy/sell other cryptocurrencies.  

The development of cryptocurrency exchange played an integral part of the ecosystem. In recent years, the cryptocurrency market has grown tremendously. In 2017, market capitalization was approx. USD 23 Billion which Bitcoin contributed approx. 86% of the market share. As of Apr 2020, the total market capitalization is approx. USD 218 Billion but Bitcoin’s contribution falls to approx. 63%. (Source:  https://coincodex.com/)

Hunger for “Safe Haven” and Returns

Low interest rate environment is pushing investors to the edge. “Risk-free” returns from government bonds are not longer attractive and that have domino’s effects to money market. On the other hand, term deposits in bank is eroding the value of money.  

Investors are forced to take on higher risk. Ironically, investors deemed the more speculative Bitcoin as a “safe haven”  because it is the only “asset” that is unlinked from other markets such as stocks and bonds which are expected to hit badly in the worsening Covid-19 situations.    

Such behaviour exhibited by investors prompted cryptocurrency e-wallet players to provide more “banking” services. The idea of staking requires cryptocurrency holder to deposit their cryptocurrency to their e-wallet accounts. In exchange, holder will receive an interest, generally higher than what conventional banks are offering, which are paid in cryptocurrency into the e-wallet. For instance, Crypto.com is giving up to 18% interest (per annum) if you are staking their CRO coins.

To attract more investors jumping into the cryptocurrency world, cryptocurrency players are releasing “Stablecoins” which are pegged to the fiat currency. The idea is well received by the investors. At the point of writing, the total market capitalization of the Stablecoin has already surpassed USD 7 Billion. (source: https://cryptonews.com/news/billions-in-crypto-dry-powder-on-exchanges-ahead-of-bitcoin-6326.htm)

With no where to put their dollar, investors are using these “crypto-banking services” to battle this low interest rate environment. All investment carry risk and it is all about managing it. The Stablecoin, in one way or another, eliminates volatility and that has been perceived by investors as a “safe haven”.

Central Banks – The Only Reason Why Cryptocurrency Survives

Central bankers are lacking the understanding of the hyper-globalized markets. Lowering interest rate to prevent the economy from falling apart is like giving a cold medicine to a flu patient. It manages some symptoms, but it does not prepare the markets for recovery.

The modern economies are more complex but central bankers are not equipped with the skills and tools to tackle the economic problems. Flooding the market with “free” money is detrimental to entire financial system and investors are losing their faith. Banks are not able to earn enough profit (interests) from their loan business. Consumers are pushed to put money in all type of financial products fearing that their savings might be eroded in future value terms if they just put it with the bank as deposit.

In short, money is devaluing persistently forcing investors to put their dollars on high-risk technology sector to seek for better returns. In fact, it is already happening before cryptocurrency even exists. Tech stocks, which have all-along been speculative in nature, advanced in the last recession. From an investor’s perspective, it was counter-intuitive decision, but the bet was rewarding. In the short 10 years, technology has advanced, and it is the only resource that we could rely on to keep our economy engine moving despite the lockdowns in major cities.

That is the way the global economy is heading – Technology. Like it or not, our financial system will be getting more complex in future (in fact, it is complex enough now) that human central bankers may not be able to tackle multiple economic problems at the same time. To put it objectively, we will not know how financial technology will play out in the future but now, those with money are betting on cryptocurrency.

This article has been reposted @medium https://link.medium.com/QpcvKrMc15

Binance Announcement – Up to 10% Cashback on Crypto Purchases via the “Pay with Bank Card” Service

Source: Binance

Binance will launch a cashback promotion for users to buy cryptocurrency using their Visa debit or credit cards via the “Pay with Bank Card” service on Binance. The promotion will run for 4 days and the rewards will be given out on a first come first served basis. The rewards will reset each day. 

Activity Period: 2020/04/25 8:00 AM to 2020/04/29 8:00 AM (UTC)

Each daily activity period runs for 24 hours from 8:00 AM (UTC) to 8:00 AM (UTC) the next day. Daily reward resets will occur at 7:59:59 AM (UTC) each day.

Activity Rules:

Number of RewardsFirst Daily Purchase Amount (USD Equivalent)Bonus Amount 
30$5,000+500 BUSD
100$1,000 – $4,999100 BUSD
200$500 – $99940 BUSD
1,000$300 – $49920 BUSD

Users are entitled to one bonus amount per day based on their first purchase amount for each daily period.

  • The first 30 users to buy 5,000+ USD in crypto via their Visa debit or credit card as their first transaction each day will receive a reward of 500 BUSD each.
  • The first 100 users to buy between 1,000 USD and 4,999 USD in crypto via their Visa debit or credit card as their first transaction each day will receive a reward of 100 BUSD each.
  • The first 200 users to buy between 500 USD and $999 USD in crypto via their Visa debit or credit card as their first transaction each day will receive a reward of 40 BUSD each.
  • The first 1,000 users to buy between 300 USD and $499 USD in crypto via their Visa debit or credit card as their first transaction each day will receive a reward of 20 BUSD each.

Terms & conditions:

  • Crypto purchases must be made using Visa cards via the “Pay with Bank Card” service, where users need to add their bank card details on Binance. 
  • Accepted fiat currencies include: USD, EUR, GBP, PLN, NOK, DKK, RUB, UAH.
  • Rewards will be determined by each user’s first daily purchase amount and will run on a first come first served basis each day.
  • Rewards will be distributed within a week after the competition ends. You will be able to login and see your rewards via the Distribution History page in the Account Center.
  • Binance reserves the right to cancel or amend any Activity or Activity Rules at our sole discretion.

See Original Post here

Disclaimer: Cryptocurrency is highly speculative and it is not suitable for investors who are not ready to lose their investment. Investors who don’t have prior knowledge in cryptocurrency investment should speak to their financial advisors before making an investment commitment.

Important Note: Existing cryptocurrency investors who wishes to jump onto Binance platform may wish to consider using my referal https://www.binance.com/en/register?ref=URB5YCE6. I will receive a commission for every trade that my invitee made. However, I have set aside additional 5% commission fee which will be “kicked back” to my invitees (those who have used my referral codes to sign up an account with Binance) to reduce their trading fees. Once you are a Binance user, you could customize referral code to invite your friends like what I am doing now! Happy Trading!

Press Release – New Microsoft 365 Personal and Family Subscriptions now available in Singapore

Source: Microsoft Singapore

[Asia Pacific, Singapore, 22 April 2020] – Microsoft 365 is now available in Singapore. It is a refresh of Office 365, which provides users with new artificial intelligence (AI), rich content and templates, and cloud-powered experiences. 

These experiences are being rolled out regionally and will reach over 38 million Office 365 subscribers globally in the next few months.

“We want to continue to empower everyone to remain connected with those who matter inside and outside of the workplace. The Microsoft 365 Family and Personal subscriptions will provide users with innovative experiences that enable them to co-author, video chat, organize, and come together with friends and their families anytime and anywhere,” said Rami El Bayadi, Regional Director, Microsoft Office Asia. 

Users can look forward to two new Microsoft 365 experiences. Firstly, a new Microsoft Family Safety app designed to keep families safe across the digital and physical worlds. Microsoft will also launch Microsoft Teams later this year for users to stay connected with their family and friends. There will also be new features in Microsoft Teams that make it easier to connect, organize and collaborate with family and friends.

The new Microsoft Edge browser also takes a step forward with new features to protect users on the web with Password Monitor, and to simplify research with Collections.

Other new features available with Microsoft 365 are listed below.

  • AI-Powered Microsoft Editor: To help people put their best foot forward at home and at work, Microsoft Editor – an AI-powered service available in more than 20 languages – is now accessible across Word and Outlook.com, and as a standalone browser extension for Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers have access to advanced grammar and style refinements such as rewrite suggestions and additional style critiques to allow greater clarity and conciseness.
  • Presenter Coach Features in PowerPoint: An AI-powered Presenter that helps correct monotone pitch and refine speeches. This will be available as a free preview, and then eventually only to Microsoft 365 subscribers. 
  • PowerPoint Designer: This feature effectively boosts creativity, such as transforming text into a beautiful timeline, or even auto-generated slide layouts. Microsoft is also providing Microsoft 365 subscribers with exclusive access to over 8,000 beautiful images and 175 looping videos from Getty Images, plus 300 new fonts, 2,800 new icons to create highimpact and visually appealing documents. 
  • New Data Types and Smart Templates in Excel: This presentsa different and less timeconsuming way to interact with data, providing deeper meaning for over 100 topics. Microsoft 365 subscribers have exclusive access to the over 100 new data types powered by Wolfram Alpha. 
  • Organizing Time Across Work and Life with Outlook: New features in Outlook on the web help users manage all commitments, across work and life, in one place. With these new features, they can link their personal calendar to their work calendar to show their real availability, while still maintaining their privacy.
  • Deepen Connections with Family and Friends with Skype and Microsoft Teams:  Skype has seen an increase in usage with 40 million people using it daily, up 70% month over month and, we are seeing a 220% increase in Skype to Skype calling minutes month over month. To help people get connected even faster, Microsoft recently introduced a new feature in Skype called Meet Now, that allows users to easily connect over video (for free) with up to 50 people in just a few clicks.
  • Protecting Families in the Physical and Digital Worlds with Microsoft Family Safety: Coming soon is the Microsoft Family Safety app, a new mobile experience on iOS and Android for Microsoft 365 subscribers. The application empowers families in a variety of ways with both free and premium offerings, including managing screen time across Windows PCs, Android and Xbox. 

The new Office features have been rolled out to all existing Office 365 customers and Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions are now available worldwide. These include premium desktop Office apps, 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage per person, 60 Skype minutes for calling mobile phones and landlines, advanced security features to protect users from malware and phishing attacks, ongoing technical support, plus all the new features and benefits announced today. Microsoft 365 Personal costs $10.80 SGD a month. For the best value, a family of up to six people can use Microsoft 365 Family for $14.80 SGD a month. 

Review of Soul ST-XS2– A Surprise Gem for the Fitness Fanatics

The market has no lack of good TWS (True Wireless Stereo) system. Ever since 2019, mega audio manufacturers like Sony and Sennheiser launched their own ranges of TWS products. Chinese OEM manufacturers are flooded by customers’ orders from all around the world. Do a quick google, you will see a long product list of TWS that you could actually buy directly from the manufacturers (which located at some Chinese province you probably won’t even know) 

Source instagram @weewu

Anyway, competition in the TWS space is crowded. How Soul Electronics positioned themselves in this highly competitive market?

Let’s take a look at their Soul ST-XS2 TWS.

Appearance

Fresh out from the box, the XS2 comes with a standard USB type C charging cable, 2 pairs of tip covers (one with wings, one without), 2 pairs of different size ear tips and a small carabiner (ok. This is not standard issue that you will usually when you purchase a TWS).

At the first look, it is not hard to notice that the XS2 is designed for outdoor activities. I have received the black review unit. The grey colour wing tip blends well with its black colour design. The inner part that is in contact with the ear is mainly covered by the rubber wing tip and ear tip to protect against sweat exposure. On the outer part, it mainly consists a light indicator and button control.

Overall, it is subtle, but the wingtip brings out the sports aura making it looks sporty.

From here, you probably would have guessed the XS2 is also water resistance with a rating of IPX7. In other words, you could literately wear this out for a short swim.

Source: Instagram @weewu

Comfort and Experience

What has amazed me is the Auto-Pairing Bluetooth feature. Immediately out of the charging case, the XS2 pairs with my smartphone. No power on, no pin required; all I did is to bring the smartphone near to the XS2 (just make sure the Bluetooth on your smartphone is on. Common sense). Fast and seamless!

Once you have replaced the ear tips with the right size, the XS2 fits comfortable well. I am expecting some discomfort from the wingtips. Surprisingly, I feel alright after a 30-minute run with the XS2 . In fact, I don’t even realise that the wingtips are there.

Sound Experience

The treble is clear and that’s a plus point when listening to vocal. There is also another plus point when you could hear the voice clearly during a phone call.

Source: Instagram @weewu

During the testing at my desk, the treble seems to have over-powered the bass. I don’t get the “punch” I need especially when listening to some high tempo music. That formed a negative expectation especially when you are doing strenuous exercise; you need such music to motivate you.

However, the XS2 has proven me wrong. The entire running experience with XS2 is pleasant. The sound signature somehow sounds better; maybe the sudden rush of endorphins has changed my perception of sound. I have enjoyed my run very much with XS2

The XS2 covers the ear hole quite tightly and it forms a physical barrier to block off environment sound. There is no active noise cancelling feature. Instead, they are using their proprietary “Transparent Sound mode” that receive sounds from outside and reproduce them via the earpiece. (Note: To turn it on/off, press the “Soul” button for 1 sec and it will follow by a “beep”).

It works well when you want to have better situation awareness while you are out running.

Verdict

The Soul ST- XS2 surprises me in number of ways. From a consumer’s perspective, I can’t complain much about the Soul ST- XS2. At the price of SGD 169, you get a TWS that ticks almost all the checkboxes i.e. you are getting a water-proof earpiece that comes with a charging case that has combined battery life of 25 hours playback. That’s a steal!

Little did I expect that, I prefer to run with theXS2 even though I did not derive much satisfaction listening to it at home. Don’t get me wrong. The sound quality is good but what surprised me most is the fact that my enjoyment with it could vary that much.

I like the idea of “Transparent Sound Mode”. Given how most of the TWS are designed, they probably would have blocked off a substantial amount of the environment sounds even without active noise cancellation. If you have looked around in the market, most headsets that are specifically designed for runners usually does not come with noise cancelling features because people would not need that while doing their run. The “Transparent Sound Mode” works entirely opposite from the active noise cancellation. Reproduction of the surrounding sounds actually gives runner a better situation awareness. That’s another surprise I got from the Soul ST- XS2

Apple Launches their budget iPhone SE (2nd Gen) in the midst of Covid-19 crisis

Apple has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. Apple share (stock quote: AAPL) has slumped more than 30% since Feb this year and given the fact that US is experiencing the highest unemployment rate never seen since The Great Depression, Apple has reacted by launching cheaper iPhone SE (2nd Gen) to the market.

The new iPhone SE comes in three beautiful colors — black, white and (PRODUCT) RED. Source: Apple

The new iPhone SE comes in three beautiful colors — black, white and (PRODUCT) RED— and will be available for pre-order beginning Friday, April 17, 8PM SG time from SGD 649 onwards.

The new iPhone SE is armed with A13 Bionic chip, the one that is used in iPhone 11 series. When comes to camera, there is a slight upgrade from its predecessor, the new iPhone SE features a single 12MP rear camera. The front-facing camera is powered by a 7MP sensor.

Apple has also improved the iPhone SE with features such as wireless charging and water resistance of IP67 rating. You can literately wash your iPhone to disinfect. Unlike the iPhone 11 series, Apple has also brought back the popular physical home button which you could use the Touch ID to unlock and make Apple Pay transactions.

Source: Apple

What is missing here is the Face ID which I believe Apple is trying to use that feature to distinguish the premium iPhone series from the budget SE series. Anyway, you don’t need your face to access to your apps so it is not a must-have.

The display has got larger. The new iPhone SE is now powered by 4.7 inch LCD display. Note that this is not the OLED display used in the iPhone 11 series. Well, Apple has to find way to cut corner to lower the price, but I don’t think that will affect the whole Apple experience greatly. Anyway, how much difference between LCD and OLED, in terms of quality, can you spot?

In view of the current Covid-19 situation, Apple has lowered sales forecast in the near term. It is not surprising that the new iPhone SE could be a nice alternative for the current users who are retiring their old iPhone 7/8.

ViewQwest’s WFH solutions help ease congested home networks

ViewQwest has seen 30 per cent increase in Internet traffic over the past few weeks. It has also received (10x) increased number of requests for WFH solutions from enterprises who are currently not equipped to accommodate a full WFH arrangement for their staff due to network challenges and insufficient VPN licenses.

ViewQwest has rolled out solutions to address issues connecting to office networks due to congested Internet connections at home. With majority of the workforce now working from home, the residential network is increasingly getting congested with traffic from enterprise and consumer usage. The increase in the number of devices that need to be connected to the corporate network also contributes to the network congestion at home.

WFH Solution 1: ViewQwest Private Network

ViewQwest’s WFH Private Network, its key WFH solution, allows the office network to be directly connected to homes. Homes that can install fibre broadband mostly have two fibre optic terminal points for the entire household. Typically, only one of the terminal points will be used for the residential broadband service. The ViewQwest Private Network will then be connected to the second, spare terminal point to build a private network which connects to the office network.

The Private Network directly addresses the main issue that businesses currently face when using standard, noncloud based Virtual Private Network (VPN) services – slow network performance especially during peak hours.

VPNs typically tap on the home or public network to run. In addition, many businesses have planned for VPNs to be used mostly by remote staff or staff who occasionally need to work from home. In the current situation where work-from-home is mandated, the Internet connection at home will be strained under the weight of shared home and work usage. 

As the Private Network is directly connected on the second, spare fibre optic terminal point at home, it does not share the same bandwidth with the home network. There will be a dedicated bandwidth from the home to the office network. WFH staff who connect to the Private Network are guaranteed optimal connection between their homes and their office network without the hassle of VPNs.

At the same time, the home network will not be disrupted.

Vignesa Moorthy, CEO of ViewQwest said, “Traditionally, VPN solutions are sized to support only 10 to 20 per cent of the workforce connecting at any point in time. When too many people who are working from home use VPNs, they are bound to face slower network performance as the VPN solution will be operating over its initial capacity. In addition, the home network in which the VPN is operating from will also be congested with enterprise and consumer usage, which slows the network performance further.”

WFH Solution 2: ViewQwest Cloud Virtual Private Network Service (Cloud VPN)

Legacy VPNs are built upon a hardware-based infrastructure. As such, it is subjected to hardware capacity constraints and will not be able to keep up with sudden increase in usage quickly. This results in businesses not being able to upgrade their VPNs to accommodate a larger capacity urgently when needed.

ViewQwest’s Cloud VPN solution addresses this issue directly by having the VPN on a cloud platform. With a cloudbased VPN, businesses can choose to easily scale the VPN to cater to as many staff as required as there is no need for any infrastructure or hardware upgrade to do so.

Cloud VPN will be offered as an on-demand service. ViewQwest can activate the Cloud VPN for enterprises within 24 hours. 

Pricing

The Cloud VPN solution will cost S$5 per user per month while the Private Network solution will be priced according to the requirements of the customer. Enterprises who subscribe to the Private Network solution will also be charged according to Active and Standby periods.

Headphone Review – Adidas RPT-01 On-ear Headphone, A Perfect Fitness Companion

“I will never run with my headphones. It looks silly” This is what I used to perceive of people running with their headphones but my perception changes when I got hold of the new Adidas RPT-01. The RPT-01 is such a beauty.

Knitted fabrics-covered Adidas headphone is a class of its own.

In terms of physical appearance, I really like the knitted fabrics covering the overhead rim of the headphones. The perfect blend of black and grey appeals to me. Maybe I am Asian, the headphone seems to compliment well with my black hairs.

Speaking about designs, the overall ergonomic is well thought of. The slide-able feature caters for different head sizes and the clear indication of the sides of the earphones. Although these are standard across all headphones, one special addition to the Adidas RPT-01 is the rubber headband that prevents the headphones from slipping while you are out exercising. I am sure many people had bad experience of keep adjusting the headphones while exercising. The simple solution by putting a headband keep the device in place is brilliant! More so, the rubber headband is removeable for washing.

Removable parts that you could wash. Easy to maintain

Comfort

Often, headphone is not as comfortable especially after prolong wearing and it is certainly not so while you are running in humid Singapore condition. I am surprised that RPT-01 is in fact quite comfortable. The knitted earcups cushioned well on the ears and I don’t feel warm near my ears even though I am perspiring like mad after a 5km run. Same as the rubber headband, both earcups could be removed for washing.

Good music quality

All’s good. How about sound? The Adidas RPT-01 is one of the first 2 headphones developed under the partnership with Zound, the company behind audio brands such as Marshall speakers and Urbanears headphones. That sets the mark high and it does deliver reasonable bass while listening to high tempo music though I would like the bass to be more punchy. In terms of clarity, it scores acceptably well.   

This headphone is a pure wireless listening companion. There is no 3.5mm audio option for us to compare the sound quality between wired and wireless settings.

Nonetheless, the claimed 40 hours battery life is impressive. I have brought it along for several runs and I have never done a single charge during the testing phase.

Verdict

This product is specifically designed for sports enthusiast. Priced at $299, you get an Adidas branded headphone that promises you comfort and style. On top of that, you get a good-looking headphone that will help you to attract eyeballs in the gym.

Having said so, I think that there should be more features that targeted for fitness training. The current smartphone app serves pretty much as an equalizer which I think it is very underserved. Afterall, Adidas is a sports brand. I think the app could provide more useful data on the activities that could help users to improve their performance.

Wirecard and Grab Partners; Aim to Drive Cashless Payment in SEA Region

Wirecard (stock quote: WDI.DE) is entering into a payments partnership with Grab that will see Wirecard process transactions made via the GrabPay e-wallet, starting with the Malaysian, the Philippines and the Singapore markets. Consumers can use their GrabPay e-wallet to pay for transactions online and offline, for example for ridehailing or food delivery, but can also use it to pay for purchases on e-commerce sites or at physical stores.

Through this partnership, Wirecard will process card transactions for GrabPay via its digital financial commerce platform and will extend GrabPay to more merchants to expand the acceptance of the mobile payment method. According to a recent global Wirecard consumer survey, over 90% of consumers in Southeast Asia have used digital payments both in-store and online. Mobile wallets are almost twice as popular in the region as they are worldwide, with 44% regularly choosing them as a payment method compared to the global average of 25%.

“We are proud to partner with Grab, a Southeast Asian icon,” commented Georg von Waldenfels, Executive Vice President Group Business Development at Wirecard. “Together, we aim to continue disrupting the payment, tech and mobility industries with innovative solutions that can improve the lives of millions.”

Reuben Lai, Senior Managing Director of Grab Financial Group, said, “We are thrilled to partner with Wirecard as we progress on our journey of building a cashless economy for millions of businesses across Southeast Asia. Wirecard’s innovative mobile payments solutions will not only complement our GrabPay e-wallet platform, but also offer businesses and consumers the opportunity to transact with greater security, convenience and flexibility.” The GrabPay e-wallet is one of the most popular e-wallets in Southeast Asia accepted by over 600,000 merchants and small businesses.

Sudio Fem Review – Designed for the “Workout-aholic”

Sudio, as a brand in the true wireless earphones (TWS) segment, is not well known for making audio product that is tough enough for sports but my water test (though it is unintentional) on Sudio Nivå, their first TWS, has totally changed my perception about this brand despite it comes without IP rating. (If you want to read my review on Sudio Nivå, you can read it up here)

Although it took them almost 2 years to get IP rating for their products, it is better late than never. Their latest TWS – Sudio Fem is now IPX5 water resistance which essentially means that it can survive in a wet weather condition.

Source: Instagram user @weewu

Comfort

I am not sure this works for others. The Sudio Fem is bigger than their previous Tolv and Nivå and I find the fit is just nice for my ears. Well, this varies across different people. However, the ear tip of Fem is slightly longer than the Sudio Tolv’s which allows the earbud to go further into the ear. That blocks off some of the surrounding noise.

Even though Sudio Fem does not come with noise cancelling feature, the overall listening experience is not completely disrupted by the surrounding sound. Ok I am not a huge fan of noise cancelling, so I might be bias to a certain extent. Anyway, I will disable any form of noise cancelling feature while I am doing my outdoor runs for safety reasons.

Just like other TWS, the Sudio Fem has packed 5 ear tip sizes.

Sound Quality

The bass is quite impressive given the small size of the product. If you are always on a “Beast Mode” while listening to your Spotify, Sudio Fem is one of the products that can deliver the best listening experience.

Vocal performance is decent. It has the necessary clarity. However, the sound stage is slightly different from the Sudio Tolv. The Tolv has a more natural vocal performance while watching a live concert on YouTube. That adds “life” in the concert music experience. Although the Fem can deliver clarity, I feel I don’t enjoy as much as the Tolv when comes to live concert music.

Other enhancement

Beside IP certification, the Sudio Fem has also equipped with Google Assistance and Siri. This voice assistance will be extremely useful to access your smartphone when you are busy with your outdoor activities.

On top of that, Sudio is offering 18 months international warranty for purchase of Sudio Fem.

Verdicts

Given its sound stage and IPX5 rating, the Sudio Fem is a perfect companion for runners. Personally, I think that it is reasonable for Sudio to price the Fem at SGD 219.

Source: Instagram user @weewu

But… (as you might have expected) If you are getting this with my promocode: theneodimensionFem, you can get a 15% discount on your purchase. On top of that you get a free special edition CNY gift packaging and a crossbody pouch if you made a purchase before 14th Feb.

Since Valentine’s Day is coming, you can buy any 2 Sudio earphones and get a further 10%. That’s 25% discount (15% from code plus the additional 10%)!   

We all know that there is no one product that caters for all. By and large, it pays to get good quality product but Sudio has proven that good quality product may not come at a sky-high price.